CTA’s newest trustee, Chris Kutesko, writes about his journey through community transport and shares what inspired him to become a CTA Trustee.
Most of my professional life has been spent working with transport and accessibility and, as a result, I’ve always been aware of the incredibly important role that community transport plays within the public passenger transport framework. Among other benefits, it provides better access to education and employment opportunities, as well as healthcare and recreation. Community transport not only plugs the gaps left by the commercial network it also delivers an enhanced local focus and helps to combat loneliness and social isolation. It provides a personal, often door to door, service for our customers allowing them to meet people and reach destinations which might well otherwise be inaccessible to them. Equally importantly, it provides a whole range of community involvement opportunities for a huge number of volunteers in roles such as car and minibus drivers, passenger care assistants, administrative staff and charity trustees.
When I ceased to work in paid employment I was therefore very pleased to be able to become a trustee of BACT a medium sized community transport operator which connects communities throughout the Waveney district of Suffolk and in parts of South Norfolk. I joined an organisation which comprised some 80 volunteers and 10 employees and through a very steep learning curve gradually came to better understand the complexities and challenges inherent in providing a community transport service.
I was also able to appreciate the absolutely vital difference we made to the lives of our passengers for whom we were providing much more than just a transport service. Additionally I began to get a better view of the overall community transport sector: how there were so many operators throughout the country, how they varied so much in size and the services they were able to provide and, especially, how important volunteers were to all of them.
I also began to appreciate how, for an industry as diverse and geographically diffused as ours, it was important to have a strong national co-ordinating body, such as the CTA, which listens to its member organisations and takes on board their views in developing policies to champion community transport. CTA is also able to provide the necessary advice and support to help members to deliver the best possible services. It can argue at strategic levels on behalf of community transport, present the case for its continued development and funding and develop stronger links with other sectors, such as healthcare, whose services we help to support.
I therefore had no hesitation in applying to be considered for the role of CTA trustee when vacancies were announced earlier this year and at the Annual General Meeting earlier this month I was delighted that my application to join the CTA Board of Trustees was confirmed.
Trustees play a vital role, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity’s work. This week is Trustees’ Week which is an annual event to showcase the work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people to get involved and make a difference.
I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, the staff of CTA and our member organisations to continue to increase awareness of the vital role that community transport plays within our social fabric and the importance of ensuring appropriate legislative and funding provisions to enable it to continue, develop and prosper.